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How many colors are there in basketball?

Basketball is a sport played between two teams of five players each. The objective is to shoot a ball through a hoop 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter and mounted at a height of 10 feet (3.048 m) to a backboard at each end of the court. Basketball requires the use of a variety of equipment, most notably a basketball, hoop, and court. Given the variety of equipment involved, basketball utilizes a rainbow of colors.

The Basketball

The official basketball used in the NBA is an orange leather or composite ball 29.5 inches (75 cm) in circumference. Its color is officially defined as Pantone Matching System (PMS) 165. The orange hue was chosen to make the ball easily visible on television broadcasts. Other levels of competitive basketball use different sizes and material compositions of balls, but tend to stick to the familiar orange shade.

League Ball Size Ball Material Ball Color
NBA 29.5 in Leather or composite PMS 165 orange
NCAA Men 30 in Leather or composite PMS 165 orange
NCAA Women 28.5 in Leather or composite PMS 165 orange
High School 29.5 in (boys)
28.5 in (girls)
Leather or composite PMS 165 orange

For recreational and youth leagues, more variation in ball color is seen. While orange is still the most common, recreational balls come in colors like blue, green, pink, neon yellow, purple, and more. But when played at the professional and collegiate levels, the standard is an orange ball matching the specific PMS 165 hue.

The Hoop

Basketball hoops consist of a metal rim 18 inches (46 cm) in diameter, a net, and a backboard. The rim is uniformly orange to contrast against the backboard and enable players to target it. The rim’s orange color is also for visibility, much like the ball. At all levels of competitive play, rims must be painted orange.

The net attached below the rim is white cord, hanging down loosely from the hoop. Nets can fray and discolor over time and need periodic replacing, so crisp new nets are pure white.

Backboards come in a greater variety of colors. The backboard’s purpose is to provide a flat surface for the ball to rebound off the rim or net. It also makes it easier to judge whether shots pass through the rim or swish the net. Professional backboards are generally made of transparent tempered glass, 72 inches (180 cm) wide and 42 inches (110 cm) tall. College backboards may be slightly smaller at 72×42 inches, 60×32 inches, or 54×32 inches. High school backboards are commonly smaller still, at the 72×42, 60×32, or 54×32 inch sizes. Instead of glass, they may be made of wood or plastic. Smaller recreation league backboards can be fan-shaped or as small as 42×30 inches.

Backboard Material Common Backboard Colors
Glass Transparent
Wood Painted white, black, blue, green
Plastic Transparent or colored tints

The neutral transparent glass used in professional leagues enables maximum visibility without interfering with the prominent orange ball and hoop. At lower levels of play, a wider range of backboard colors are employed. White is common for contrast with the ball and players. But colors like black, blue, green, red, gray, and clear plastic provide options for recreational facilities.

The Court

Basketball courts come in different materials and colors as well. Professional NBA courts are made of polished hardwood painted in a parquet pattern of alternating colors. College basketball courts are also polished hardwood, sometimes painted in school colors and logo designs. High school gyms often have simpler basketball courts with painted hardwood, using the standard 50×94 foot court dimensions.

Outdoor municipal basketball courts are commonly asphalt or concrete with painted court boundary lines and a metal or nylon net hoop. The variety of available paint colors opens up fun design options for outdoor neighborhood or park courts. Half-court designs are also popular for squeezing into smaller outdoor areas.

Court Material Common Court Colors
Hardwood Natural tan stained wood or paint in school colors
Asphalt/Concrete Gray surface painted with boundary lines in white, yellow, blue, and school colors

The boundaries of a basketball court are defined by lines 4 inches wide. The outside boundary is the sideline with a minimum 2 feet of unobstructed space outside the line. The half-court line divides the court lengthwise into two equal sections. The center circle indcates jump ball spots. The three-point arc curves out to define the three-point shot area. And the free throw lane designates the key area below the hoop. All lines must contrast the main court surface color. So outdoor courts use bright white, yellow lines to stand out on gray asphalt or concrete.

The Uniforms

Basketball uniforms consist of shorts, jerseys, socks, and sneakers in the team’s coordinated colors. Professional basketball uniforms are designed for maximum breathability, sweat wicking, and unrestricted mobility. They feature plenty of visual flair as well with logos, numbers, names, and design accents.

The home team wears light colored jerseys, usually white, beige, yellow or light gray. The away team wears a darker jersey color contrasting the home uniform. The most common away colors are blue, black, green, red, navy, and maroon. Dark gray is also used. Team colors are selected for visual appeal but also psychological influence. Brighter colors project positivity and confidence, while darker shades signal toughness and strength.

Standard uniform shorts match the jersey color and extend several inches above the knee for flexibility. The waistband and side panels commonly feature accents in a third team color. Matching socks follow the base jersey color as well. Sneakers incorporate team colors and logos with unlimited variety given the wide offerings from major shoe brands.

Uniform Piece Typical Color Scheme
Jersey 1-2 main team colors
Shorts Matches jersey with contrasting accents
Socks Matches main jersey color
Sneakers Coordinates with team colors

Basketball uniforms play a big role in team identity and fan culture. The total color palette for a team’s home and away uniforms, warmups, coaching apparel, and fan gear can reach 10-15 colors or more when accent colors are included. But the team is recognized by their two main uniform colors.


Basketball utilizes a wide spectrum of colors across its various equipment and arena elements. But several stand out as the quintessential colors of the sport:

  • Orange – The universal ball and hoop color
  • White – The neutral background of pro courts and home jerseys
  • Team Colors – Iconic hues for each franchise

From these core basketball colors, endless colorful variety blooms. The flashy sneakers, colorful courts, custom jerseys, and multicolored balls together create basketball’s vibrant visual identity.